Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pay and Display Parking

Pay and display parking really pisses me off. Those stupid machines that are replacing old school parking meters in major cities around the world. These machines suck and I hate them.

First of all, the locations are generally a pain in the ass. Parking meters are always right at the parking spot, right next to your car. The pay and display machines are usually one or two to a block, you have to walk to the machine, and back to your car to display the ticket. This leaves enough time for a wily meter maid to give you a parking ticket while you are attempting to obey the law and pay for parking.

Secondly, you can not piggyback on somebody else when you use a pay and display machine. With traditional parking meters, there is always the hope that when you pull in to a spot, you find that the person who has parked there previously has left you with enough time that you do not need to pay any more. Someone pays for two hours, leaves after an hour, and you get that second hour for free... awesome! The city should not care... the spot is being paid for AND used for two hours, why does it matter if it is by two different people?

But with pay and display, if you pay for two hours and leave after an hour, game over. The next person still has to pay for the spot. If they do the same thing, pay for two hours and leave after an hour, the city is collecting four hours worth of parking fare for a spot that is only used for two hours!! That, my friends, is bullshit. That one factor on its own has doubled... DOUBLED the money taken in through parking fees in cities that have switched to pay and display. Twice the amount of money is now being taken from you and me.

I will admit, pay and display parking has one major advantage over parking meters... the ability to accept paper money and credit cards. It is nice not to worry about having enough quarters. But when we are paying with coins, and are limited in time by the number of coins we have, we are forced to act quickly, we have to get out of that parking spot soon! When we can pay with dollar bills or credit cards, it is much easier to overestimate how much time we need, and we end up spending more money.

Maybe it is just me, but I would prefer paying with quarters in an old fashioned parking meter. At the very least, even if you don't have enough spare change, you can always put a plastic shopping bag over the meter and park for free!

Here is a strategy to beat the pay and display machines. No comment on if it works or not...

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